July 12, 2001
Good morning. Today begins bright and clear with a few clouds and a steady breeze blowing across the moors. Yesterday things got back to normal around here - we had horizontal rain most of the day. The combination of cold rain and almost gale force winds is fun because it blows water into almost any opening available - car, house, garage, you name it. The positive side to the wind is that when the rain ceases, everything dries off fairly quickly. It also makes it seem warm in the mine by comparison.
I spent a while in the morning sorting and wrapping specimens for the journey back. A few needed some cleaning, so while Bill and Jonina were delivering his family to the Darlington train station, I put on the rain gear and worked in the garage. With all the wind, I am amazed that the garage door stayed on its hinges. I think it did only because last year Byron replaced the little screws holding the hinges to the frame with some proper bolts.
On towards noon, Bill and Jonina returned after a successful delivery, and took up stations in the garage, despite the weather. I packed a box of specimens that I thought I might mail back to the States, and headed down to the Post Office in Stanhope, only to find that it is closed on Wednesday afternoons. Oh well - off to the mine instead.
Byron had been spending the day collecting in a number of locations. He had pulled some more specimens from the Solstice Pocket, including another large boulder, which will have to be butchered on site. The pocket remains tight, thought fluorite is still showing in the walls. After battling with the pocket for a while, Byron decided to have one last poke at the east face before Dave and Lofty drill and blast again. When I arrived he had just finished cleaning out a small cavity, which had yielded some plates and a few druzy quartz coated stalactites with fluorites scattered about them. The color of the fluorites didn't look great underground, but we'll have another look today.
Dave and Lofty finished mucking and timbering the west face by this time, so Byron and I spent some time washing the mud away and looking for pockets. We followed one seam of fluorite, which gave us a couple of specimens of an unusual blue-green colored fluorite before pinching out. This was quite the tease, as the few we got were rather attractive. Byron continued to poke about and found another pocket that contained only druzy quartz overgrowing lumps of galena - no fluorite at all. I expressed a bit of frustration that not much of interest was showing at either face, and Dave mentioned that, in his experience in other Weardale mines, he had seen that the best and largest pockets show up in areas where the vein is not very vuggy overall. Either you find a lot of crummy little ones, or a few good big ones. We can hope.
By quitting time, the rain had past and though still windy, the sun felt good. Met up at the office with Bill and Jonina, who were looking quite nackered after a hard day of cleaning specimens in the wind and rain. No one lingered long, and soon we were off to the cottage to fix dinner. Byron decided that it was bath night, and set about getting it ready. Here at Little Allercleugh this is not as simple as one might think. The water heater is quite small and doesn't have the capacity to fill a tub with hot water in one go. To get a proper bath one must run the hot water into the tub until the hot water runs out, then turn on the booster to the water heater and wait 20 minutes for another load of hot water. Then you can finish filling the tub. I went to bed, but assume that Byron saw the process through to completion.
Today will be another day of specimen cleaning here at the cottage. There is quite a backlog of specimens to be processed, and unexcavated tubs are now ringing the garage. At the mine, Dave and Lofty are planning on drilling and blasting at the eastern face. Now that the tunnel is a ways past last year's pocket opening, Byron wants to punch another drift to the west, back into the flats. Today's postcard is of Dave loading the holes.
Stay tuned for more….
Jesse and the Crew
Dave loading the holes for another blast.